Although the task of overhauling our health care system is enormous, benchmark practices, organizations, or even nations offer useful and sometimes inspiring roadmaps to change. Some of the changes these examples suggest will require new policies at the federal or state level. Others rest in the hands of health care leaders who make decisions every day about the way health care is organized, delivered, and financed.
These seven key strategies show great promise for ensuring that the U.S. scorecard in the future will yield truly excellent results.
1. Expand Health Insurance to AllCase in Point: State of Maine
Surveys of health care opinion leaders and the public consistently show that ensuring that all Americans have adequate, reliable health insurance coverage should be the top health policy priority for Congress and the President.(2)
Yet the gap
between that ideal and today's reality remains huge.
Several states—including Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Vermont—are leading the way by implementing creative and pragmatic approaches to achieving universal health insurance coverage.(3)
Strategies that support these efforts include subsidies, mandates, taxes, public-private partnerships, and policy changes such as raising the age of dependence in parents' health insurance plans.
The State of Maine launched DirigoChoice in January 2005, an affordable insurance product that offers reduced monthly premium rates and deductibles based on income, using a sliding scale up to 300 percent of the poverty level.(4)
Comprehensive benefits include 100 percent coverage of preventive benefits and cash-back incentives for participation in wellness programs. Currently the program insures nearly 13,000 people.